The federal Family and Medical Leave Act lets employees who work for employers that are covered under the law and who are eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave off each year to care for their own medical conditions or to care for the serious medical conditions of their dependents. For example, if you are eligible, you can take unpaid leave to have a baby, to adopt a child, to receive a foster care placement, or to take care of your own health condition or the condition of a seriously ill loved one. If you have an injured service member who is your close family member, you are allowed to take up to 26 weeks of leave off from your job to care for him or her. Employers must maintain your group health coverage while you are on leave, but they are not required to pay you. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can help you to understand the federal and state family leave laws so that you understand your rights. You might wonder whether you are eligible to take leave if you are a part-time employee. Here is what you need to know.
FMLA leave for part-time workers
If you have worked enough hours and work for a covered employer, it is possible for you to take FMLA leave. Your eligibility will depend on whether your employer is covered by the law, the length of time that you have worked for your employer, and the number of hours that you have worked during the 12 months preceding the date that you want to take leave.
The FMLA only applies to larger employers. Employers that have a minimum of 50 employees who work for the company within a 75-mile radius are covered by the law. If your employer does not have enough employees to be covered under the federal FMLA law, you will not be able to take leave under the federal law.
Under federal law, employees who work for employers that are covered by the FMLA are eligible to take FMLA leave only if they meet the following requirements:
- Must have worked for a covered employer for a minimum of one year
- Must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the 12 months that precede the date that you need to take leave
- Must work at a job location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius
If you have worked for your employer for 12 months or longer, you will have met the first requirement. As a part-time worker, you will need to figure out whether you have worked the required minimum number of hours during the previous 12 months. Working 1,250 hours in a year is the same as working approximately 24 hours each week. Finally, you will need to work at a location for your company that has at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles.
If you work 24 or more hours per week and have done so for at least 12 months, you will qualify for FMLA leave. If the hours that you have worked do not total 1,250, remember that your employer will be required to add them up on the day that your leave begins instead of on the day that you request your leave. If you have the ability to reschedule an appointment such as a surgery for a later time, you can try to increase the number of hours that you work to meet the requirement of working 1,250 hours.
You will not be able to take FMLA leave if you have not worked 1,250 hours and your employer refuses to increase your hours so that you can meet this requirement. However, the New Jersey Family and Medical Leave Act is more generous. Under the state’s law, you can take leave if you have worked at least 1,000 hours in the 12 months leading up to the date that you need to take leave. The state’s law allows eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks off from work in a 24-month time period. However, the state’s law is meant to allow you to take leave to care for the serious health condition of a family member or to care for a new child. It is not meant for leave that you need to take for your own health condition.
Get help from Swartz Swidler
If you are a part-time employee and need to take time off from work because of a serious health condition, it is possible that you might be eligible. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can help you to determine whether you are eligible for leave and which law might allow you to qualify. Schedule an appointment today by filling out our online contact form.